New York’s MoMA considers buying NFTs after a $70 million art collection auction


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The William S. Paley Foundation, which provided MoMA with one of the most important private collections, will auction off $70-$100 million worth of art. The proceeds will be used to expand the museum’s digital presence, which includes launching an art-related streaming channel, as well as hosting virtual exhibitions and video chats. However, there is another facet of this endeavor: The museum will be collaborating with educational institutions and possible acquisitions of digital art NFTs. A portion of the auction’s sales will also go to philanthropic causes pursued by the late Paley.

The collection includes works by renowned artists, such as Picasso, Bacon, Rousseau, Rodin, and Renoir. The art pieces were gathered by the founder of the CBS broadcasting network, William S. Paley, who held the artwork until his death in 1990.

Auctioned works include Pablo Picasso’s “Guitar on a Table” (1919), Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies for Portrait of Henrietta Moraes” (1963), and Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s still life of strawberries (1905). Later this year, auction house Sotheby’s also plans to auction off 29 of Paley’s 81 pieces at MoMA.

William S. Paley’s son, Bill Paley, is now the foundation’s vice president. He told WSJ that his father was “always keen on learning about and adopting new technologies,” which supports the museum’s goal to extend its digital presence.

The museum has seen its revenue drop during the pandemic due to visitor restrictions from the public health crisis, so it needs to make up for the loss in income. MoMA director Glenn Lowry told WSJ that the museum usually sees three million annual visitors, but last year, the number dropped to 1.65 million. However, MoMA’s social media network saw a 5 million follower increase within a year, from 30 million to 35 million, so clearly, there is interest in MoMA.

Traditional museums see benefits from Web3. Boston’s Museum of Fine Art released an NFT collection to fund art conservation works, Antwerp’s Royal Museum started a project to tokenize fine art, and the Vatican has set plans to create an NFT gallery for history lovers.

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Agne Cimermanaite

Agne is a journalist and writer with a background in literature, culture, and arts. She entered the Web3 space in 2021 and began writing about cryptocurrency and NFTs. Agne is passionate about technology and storytelling and is always on the lookout for exciting stories.

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